James Dobson is already asking for donations for his new nonprofit, James Dobson on the Family, which he’s launching with son Ryan in March.
Please click here to read my Gazette story for background on Dobson’s new ministry.
On his Facebook page, Dobson estimates first-year operation costs to be $2 million. “Your participation will be greatly appreciated, especially during this time when startup costs will be very expensive,” he writes.
Dobson’s new ministry will have a similar agenda to that of Focus, which is to build up family values. The centerpiece of the ministry will be a daily radio show Dobson will co-host with 39-year-old Ryan.
Dobson’s departure from Focus only to start a similar ministry has some outside obervers speculating that Dobson was forced out of Focus and that a bitter Dobson decided to create a competing organization. Dobson, they say, may also feel that Focus’ kinder and gentler approach under CEO and president Jim Daly is not doing the trick, motivating Dobson to start a family nonprofit where fiery rhetoric is the norm.
Both Focus and Dobson deny these reasons.
Daly said Wednesday that Dobson may simply want to work with Ryan in the same ministry. “He has the chance to share his life’s work and passion with his only son,” he said. “What man wouldn’t choose to do that?”
As for James Dobson, he said on Facebook that he still feels called to minister on family issues. “We are in a moral decline of shocking dimensions,” Dobson writes. “I have asked myself how I can sit and watch the world go by without trying to help if I can.”
Whatever the true motivation for Dobson’s venture , the result may be a financial hit to Focus, since Dobson’s radio show was a great vehicle for bringing in donations. In the U.S. alone, Dobson has a daily audience of 1.5 million.
There are only so many fundraising dollars to go around, and any further financial hit to Focus could mean more layoffs and budget cuts for the family group. The timing could hardly be worse for Focus.
Focus’ budget was cut from $160 million in 2008 to $139 million in 2009, and its workforce has fallen from 1,400 in 2002 to 860 today.
If Dobson now draws money away from Focus to his new ministry, how will that affect the group’s long-term viability?